SEOUL, Aug. 14 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday his government will step up efforts to enhance international awareness of the issue of Korean women systematically forced to serve as sex slaves for Japanese troops during World War II.
"The government will do its best to restore the dignity and honor of the victims of the Japanese military 'comfort women,'" Moon said in a message to mark the memorial day for the victims.
From the universal viewpoint of humankind, he added, the government will "share and spread" the issue of Japan's wartime atrocity in the international community "as a message about peace and women's human rights."
Civic groups at home and abroad held rallies and events on Wednesday to commemorate the victims as part of International Memorial Day for Victims of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery.
Historians say up to 200,000 girls and women, mostly Koreans, suffered agony from what South Korea formally characterizes as a crime against humanity. The victims are euphemistically known as comfort women.
The issue first became public on Aug. 14, 1991, with the historic testimony by South Korean comfort woman victim, Kim Hak-sun, about her horrific experience.
Last year, the liberal Moon administration designated the date as the official memorial day for comfort women.
Moon noted that the courage of Kim and other victims to reveal what they suffered has led more people to be aware of "the truth."
Many of the victims have participated in protest rallies held near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul every Wednesday since 1992 to call for Tokyo's formal apology.
The 1,400th street rally took place around the girl statute symbolizing the comfort women in front of the embassy later in the day.
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